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Living Belief
A Short Introduction to Christian Faith
HARDCOVER; Published: 6/7/2022
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7537-2
Price: $ 30.00
251 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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A leading theologian’s concise guide to the beliefs, commitments, and practices of Christianity. 

What do Christians believe? But also, what do they do? And feel? 

With decades of experience teaching the essentials of Christian faith, Douglas Ottati still finds these questions—and more like them—dynamic and compelling. In Living Belief, he moves beyond trite answers, drawing from the deep well of tradition to offer up wisdom from the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Lord’s Prayer. In so doing, Ottati explores key Christian themes, such as creation, redemption, and love—of neighbor, enemy, and the weak and dependent. 

Concise and approachable, Living Belief makes no claims to be a definitive account of Christianity but rather attempts “to introduce a faith that remains a source of meaning and direction, that orients, that encourages and assures, that supplies moral standards and calls for contrition, and that furnishes grounds for perseverance and hope.” In connection with each chapter, Ottati includes questions for discussion, so that readers—those revisiting the core components of their Christian faith and those learning about it for the first time—can together continue the work, begun here, of understanding the multifaceted life of devotion that is Christianity.

Table of Contents

Getting Started
Part One: The Apostles’ Creed
          1. The Text, History, and General Theology of the Apostles’ Creed
          2. An Overview of the First Article
          3. The Good Creation and the Human Creature
          4. God-Talk
          5. An Overview of the Second Article
          6. The Comma
          7. An Alternative Leader
          8. An Overview of the Third Article
          9. The Spirit and the Church
Part Two: The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount
          10. The Commandments
          11. Jesus’s Great Sermons
Part Three: The Lord’s Prayer
          12. The Lord’s Prayer and the Practice of Praying
Postscript: An Examined Faith
Study Questions

“This book deserves the attention of believers as well as nonbelievers; of advanced scholars as well as beginning students. In it, believers will see that true faith leads to further questions and does not cancel doubt, and nonbelievers will see that there is reason in the answers of faith; scholars will see clear proof that when one truly understands something one can explain it clearly, and beginners will learn that faith is worth exploring.”
— Justo L. González
author of The Story of Christianity and A History of Christian Thought
“Though it has its origins in the college classroom, this volume will appeal to anyone interested in probing the basic questions of life in conversation with Christian wisdom. Who is ‘God,’ and what does such Holy Mystery have to do with this world, including us? The genius of Ottati’s work is this: he illuminates how theology is a source (rather than an obstacle) for piety and practical living. With story, song, and wry narrative style, he lures his readers into theological reflection that attends at once to the ordinary details of human life and to expansive wonder at the glory of God.”
— Martha L. Moore-Keish
J. B. Green Professor of Theology at Columbia Theological Seminary
Living Belief is a deep but accessible introduction to Christian piety, which Douglas Ottati insists is not so much about subscription to a list of propositional truths as about asking good questions—about who God is, who we are (at our best and our worst), and what it means to find direction and hope in the God disclosed in Jesus Christ. Drawing on ancient creeds and biblical texts, Ottati demonstrates how Christianity seldom offers only one answer to our questions, and in doing so he invites us to discover richness, diversity, and vitality in theological tradition. Living Belief is a wonderful primer on Christian faith from one of this generation’s most important theologians.”
— James Calvin Davis
author of American Liturgy: Finding Theological Meaning in the Holy Days of US Culture
“Readers of Ottati’s recent A Theology for the Twenty-First Century know he is a brilliant interpreter of Christian faith for our time. Living Belief provides a brief and reliable compendium of that larger theological work that is approachable for a larger audience of non-specialists. Ottati outlines his basic theological vision in conversation with the classic texts studied in the great Reformation-era catechisms: the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer. In the spirit of lively inquiry, he explores basic Christian affirmations with attention both to their historical roots and to their meaning in our contemporary context. This is an excellent text for beginning students of Christian theology and would also serve well in church educational settings. Highly recommended.”
— Dawn DeVries
J. N. Thomas Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Presbyterian Seminary, Virginia
“In this volume, Douglas Ottati, one of today’s leading theologians—and one of the most learned—offers a down-to-earth and remarkably lucid primer of the Christian faith and its core sources. He shows that Christianity enacts a living faith and, in his explication, provides readers a platform for examining their faith and life. The book’s artful treatment of topics will fruitfully guide those who are interested in thinking religiously: from Sunday school classes and church discussion groups, to introductory college courses, to the nightstands of believers who want to ponder their faith more deeply in order to live it more earnestly.”
— Stephen Healey
provost and vice president for academic affairs at Cambridge College, Massachusetts
“Douglas Ottati has done it again! Fresh off the heels of authoring a systematic theology for an ecological age, he has written a profound introduction to Christianity. Writing as a theologian, he has threaded the pedagogical needle to produce a religious studies textbook that is equally learned and accessible. In a field that can easily overwhelm and bore students, Living Belief is a nuanced account that draws on and illuminates Christian classics and contemporary faith. In Ottati’s hands, theology is at home in the liberal arts as both an object of study and an engaging conversation partner.”
— David True
associate professor of religion at Wilson College, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
“When I first sat down with Living Belief, I expected a primer on the Christian religion. It is much more than this. In Living Belief, Ottati has masterfully orchestrated a conversation that moves seamlessly between Scripture, foundational creeds and confessions, and serious theological reflection that illuminates the complexities of central moral and social questions of our day. Anyone working with undergraduates and others exploring the Christian faith will welcome this pedagogical gift.”
— Franklin Tanner Cpps
director of the Miller Summer Youth Institute at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
“Douglas Ottati takes the words so many Christians know by heart and mines them for meaning with his perpetually curious theological mind. This exploration of the Christian faith begins, like all great quests, by questioning the familiar and challenging what we think we know. Generations of Christians have stood in church mumbling through, ‘I believe in God the Father Almighty,’ without thinking much about what they are saying. Ottati reminds us how and why the beliefs of the Creed center our devotional life and shape how we see ourselves as communities of the faithful. In the triune formula of the Apostles’ Creed and through the template of the Lord’s Prayer, in the Law of Moses and through Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, ancient words become fresh again when we truly seek to make them our own. Douglas Ottati has always been my go-to guide for this timeless journey.”
— Kerra Becker English
pastor at Ashland Presbyterian Church, Virginia
“In Living Belief, Douglas Ottati—through the lenses of the Apostolic and Nicene Creeds, the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Lord’s Prayer—briefly introduces an examined faith: Christian theology to all interested in how Christianity is a way of being in the world. The deliberately ambiguous title refers to the living God, to God’s aliveness in the world today. It refers to belief, to faith, to theology, a way of relating to God and all others that lives, that is alive, blossoming in its rootedness in the life-giving traditions of the Bible, the Confessions, Augustine, Calvin, Niebuhr—a giving-of-life theology in and for late modernity. The title also refers to the living of what is believed, to the embodiment of faith and theology, the enacting of relations to the God that relates to all that lives—life in its flourishing fullness. A welcoming and hospitable introduction to Christianity.”
— Henco van der Westhuizen
associate professor of historical and constructive theology at the University of the Free State, South Africa
editor of Letters to a Young Theologian